Re: The Work Habits Of Highly Annoying People

1

Mr. B. went in to work yesterday. I am being pissed off today because I have to do some crap, and it's a three day weekend, goddammit.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:29 PM
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Uh, ogged, was that supposed to be a controversial sentiment? Because no one who comments with any regularity on this blog is going to have anything positive to say about good work habits, except perhaps as an unfulfilled aspiration.

Except maybe D^2, the troll.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:31 PM
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No, I'm the laziest person on the planet, and that makes perfect sense to me. I don't know the details of what this guy was doing, but lawyering it's very easy to be in a position where you have plenty of time to do things if everything goes right, but if anything goes wrong, the necessary work increases hugely, but you don't have any more time.

It leads to a whole lot of 'hurry up and wait' when you get near deadlines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:32 PM
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I suspect the variable is not "people" but rather pace of specific industries (and consequences for being behind), tolerance for feeling overwhelmed, fondness for your work, and so on.

Or possibly I'm just saying that because it's 5:30 p.m. on Veterans Day and I'm in the office.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:33 PM
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Wow, I didn't realize it was Veterans' Day until, um, this thread.

I had to give my annual data presentation to all the faculty and students in the department today. We, um, did not have the day off.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:35 PM
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, um,


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:36 PM
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Can we have a ruling on the proper punctuation for Veterans(') Day? It looks naked without the apostophe, but I had given it up as a lost cause until I saw Ned's version.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:45 PM
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Ruling: Veterans' Day.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:47 PM
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9

People who use apostrophes for plurals will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. (I know, wrong thread). Those who leave out apostrophes will be evaluated on a case by case basis.


Posted by: rm | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:50 PM
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At my first job, I was sitting around chewing the fat (as we used to say) with some colleagues towards the end of the day when another co-worker, J, came into the office.

"What are you doing here?" we asked. "Aren't you on vacation until tomorrow?"

"Oh yes," she said. "I just wanted to come in to catch up on my email so I can right to work."

Crazy.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:03 PM
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11

Once, as an undergraduate, I turned in a paper ten days early because I knew that I would be very busy the week it was due.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:16 PM
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Those who leave out apostrophes will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

But alas, there will be no clemency for those who use quotation marks for emphasis (as in "try our 'fresh' fruit salad").



Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:17 PM
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I've heard tell that All/en Wo/od once broke into a department's building to turn in a paper early, and that the latest he ever turned in a paper was several weeks early.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:22 PM
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14

I've composed comments for a number of hypothetical threads which may or may not ever be posted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:23 PM
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case by case basis

Off with their hyphen-ignorant heads!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:29 PM
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13: The dude is a machine. Students would e-mail him chapters at midnight, happily go off to sleep in the knowledge that the ball was in his court, and wake up at seven AM to discover twenty pages of careful comments, single-spaced, e-mailed back at four AM. Or so I have heard.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:30 PM
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and one day, hbgb is going to break into unfogged and post them anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:30 PM
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I have never emailed him chapters or anything but I have emailed him papers, and he has replied with comments within the hour. He also makes papers due a week before everyone else does.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:33 PM
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13, 16: All/en's great. His Marx book is excellent.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:34 PM
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13: His CV (on his web page) is poorly formatted. So how impressive can he really be? Oh, wait, I just looked at the content. Pretty impressive, I guess. I suppose if you're this good, you don't need to print your CV out on day-glo paper with scratch-and-sniff ink. Still, my vitae smells like strawberries. Except when I'm feeling bold; then it's lemony.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:55 PM
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But alas, there will be no clemency for those who use quotation marks for emphasis (as in "try our 'fresh' fruit salad").

Holy shit, that's meant for emphasis?

I always thought there were liability concerns.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:56 PM
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Once, as an undergraduate, I turned in a paper ten days early because I knew that I would be very busy the week it was due.

Cala wins everything, for ever more.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:01 PM
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23

Once, as an undergraduate, I turned in a paper ten days early because I knew that I would be very busy the week it was due.

I'm glad no student of mine has ever done this; I'd likely lose it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:08 PM
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23: I just had to explain to a student today, why I couldn't hand them back one of their problem sets (I lost it after they handed it in early).

Arrrgh.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:12 PM
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Scheduling legal work is not easy. You can only make your hours if stuff you're planning to do actually has to get done. Thing is, it doesn't work that way: that 2 week trial you have next month -- settled yesterday. Now you absolutely had to have those 2 weeks totally free to be occupied 10 hours a day. Now, you have nothing, but empty time to fill up. And you have to fill it: you get no credit for work you would have done, but didn't have to do.

This happens all the damn time, as LB suggested. So you end up stacking deadlines, like planes circling O'Hare, confident that one or more of the things you have to do on any given day will go away. (Example: On Nov. 26, I'm scheduled to be in a trial in DC, a trial in Baltimore, and at a deposition in California. All will go away. So I'd better schedule something that will happen that day, or I'll end up conversing about nothing on the internet).


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:15 PM
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This, for me, is murder -- it's my biggest weak point as an associate. I'm nervous about the necessary overscheduling, and end up with giant unfilled gaps where I'm not billing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:18 PM
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(Example: On Nov. 26, I'm scheduled to be in a trial in DC, a trial in Baltimore, and at a deposition in California. All will go away. So I'd better schedule something that will happen that day, or I'll end up conversing about nothing on the internet).

Holy shit. I didn't know this. I could never, ever do that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:21 PM
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28

Yeah. I can't either. It would be easier if partners were cooperative about moving people around when there was a conflict, but they're not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:23 PM
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Holy shit. I didn't know this. I could never, ever do that.

The trick is knowing what will go away and/or how to make things go away. It is also critical to have back-up: people who can handle a conflict for you when everything doesnt go away.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:24 PM
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30

Oh my god, that's horrifying. I'm forwarding that comment to my friend who's in law school immediately.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:25 PM
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The trick is knowing what will go away and/or how to make things go away. It is also critical to have back-up: people who can handle a conflict for you when everything doesnt go away.

Law firms are all about relationships. If you don't have people working for you, you're screwed all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:29 PM
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Law firms are all about relationships. If you don't have people working for you, you're screwed all the time.

oooh, that sounds like fun.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:30 PM
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33

It is if you're bad at it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:32 PM
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34

Law firms are all about relationships. If you don't have people working for you, you're screwed all the time.

I cover your conflicts. You cover mine. Plus, with equals, if you give someone a really, really bad case, then you have to take a really, really bad case back.

My first year out of law school, the main partner used to send me to court on these case where the other side and judge would bitch me up and down because he was supposed to have done something. I hated it. "Please, please dont do something bad. I'm just a first year associate."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:32 PM
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35

Will, you got to actually represent a paying client in legal proceedings in a court house during your first year? That is unheard of these days.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:37 PM
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36

Will, you got to actually represent a paying client in legal proceedings in a court house during your first year? That is unheard of these days.

hmmp. Represent?!?? You mean, "appear in court and beg for a continuance."

And this was 15 years ago.

I left the firm because no associates were getting to try cases.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:41 PM
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37

Ugh. I had my annual review recently, and I commented on the whole eighth year, haven't done a deposition since before I came to the firm, am forgetting what courtrooms look like (and this after quite a complimentary review on my work product, albeit some cross words about my billing), and got told that if I wanted stand-up work, I could find some more pro-bono to do in my spare time. Bleah.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:43 PM
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38

I considered law school for many years, but getting there conflicted with my time-honored strategy of not making any decisions. And my strategy had inertia on its side, so it kept winning, year in and year out. So I'm always pleased to read threads like these and see my non-decision vindicated. I'm pretty sure I'd be miserable in that work environment.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:44 PM
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39

What's the typical time from associate to partner? Or is there one? More like up or out, or can people be respectable associates forever?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:46 PM
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40

I'll just add to the chorus of horror at a lawyer's life.

I'm incapable of keeping a schedule. Every once in a while, I declare a new leaf overturned and try to keep things written down and orderly. It usually lasts a few weeks. Right now, I'm holding two papers and two group project deadlines in memory.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:47 PM
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35 -- I was in court for a paying client near the end of my first year. A client wanted me to argue a DC Circuit appeal midway through my second year, but I chickened out found a more experienced colleague to take it.

Our associates don't try cases, though, because we don't try cases all that often. And when we do, the stakes are usually pretty high.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:48 PM
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39: It's changing. It used to be seven or eight years -- up or out, but you could probably hang around a year or two longer to make the transition. Now it's longer and more variable, and firms keep on a lot of people in permanent non-partner positions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:49 PM
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43

It will still be over nine months before I can actually say that I wasn't in a courthouse representing a client in the first year.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:50 PM
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37 -- That's what I tell our associates too. It's not the end of the world.

39 -- We're sort of up-or-out, but not right away. Associates are eligible after their 9th year, but we don't have a non-equity class. Many firms have shorter tracks leading to diminished status.

34 -- I'm in a 500 lawyer firm. If somehow I screw it up and actually have to be two places at once, we can figure it out. I'm actually a pretty good judge of what's going to happen and what isn't, but not all of my colleagues can say that: I get asked to do stuff every few months. And it's always kind of fun.

40 -- The fact that you're on the hook if you mess up a deadline and the client takes a hit is pretty powerful incentive to focus.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:55 PM
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Being a litigator sounds like fun. You get to stand occassionally. And write things using, like, whole sentences and stuff. I chose to do transactional work because I thought it would be more transferable, but no--it turns out the opposite is true. And I think it's too late for me to do anything about it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:03 PM
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46

it turns out the opposite is true.

Huh. When I look inhouse, everyone wants transaction people. No one loves general commercial litigators.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:06 PM
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47

Brock-

By transferable you mean you could more easily change employers, or something else?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:06 PM
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47: I read 'transferable' as 'not law-firm lawyering.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:08 PM
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49

Not law-firm lawyering; real lawyering, free and full of adventure, thinking on your feet deep in the trackless jungle as angry tribesman chase you with primitive, hand-hewn writs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:11 PM
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Guess I should have been more clear. Yes, it's much easier to go in-house. But harder to go anywhere any do anything different than what I do now. A good litigator can take that bundle of skills and apply it in a wide variety of legal jobs (all involving litigation, but that's wide open). Plaintiff's firms, prosecutor's offices, etc. Whereas my "skills", such as they are, are only useful for doing more or less exactly what I do, only perhaps somewhere else. I could learn to do other jobs, but it would be literally all learned from scratch.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:13 PM
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51

Probably easier to become an academic, too.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:14 PM
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52

Heh. Oddly enough, one of the best bits of advocacy I've done this year was talking the reviewing partners through why my hours are reasonable, despite what they look like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:14 PM
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53

Oh, I just realized my review's tomorrow. Did you get your bonus, LB? I remember a few months ago you said it was all but hopeless.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:16 PM
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Many firms have shorter tracks leading to diminished status.

Funny how most diminished statuses can be achieved relatively quickly.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:17 PM
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That was to 49, although it's not really apparent why it should have been.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:18 PM
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53: Well beyond hopeless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:18 PM
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I ask summer associates whether they prefer thinking about the past or the future. Whether they prefer building things or knocking things down. Money or narrative. Working together to solve problems in a mutually beneficial way, or throwing sand in people faces, tripping them, and then kicking them when they're down.

Transferability? I suppose it all depends on what they want.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:20 PM
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55: hang in there, reviewing partner, this fraying rope bridge is going to be hairy but if we can just make it across we'll have reached the legendary Ciudad de Horas Razonables, land of fable and mystery.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:21 PM
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Working together to solve problems in a mutually beneficial way, or throwing sand in people faces, tripping them, and then kicking them when they're down.

See, if anyone had put it to me this clearly, there's no question I'd be a litigator.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:22 PM
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Heh. And that reasoning was pretty much what led me to litigation. I'd just like to be fighting for people I liked better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:23 PM
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That's the theatrical version, of course. On the other side, the business lawyers have all the clients -- and thus the money. And while for us on the litigation side, we pretty much already know how and what is messed up, the transactional folks have to worry about every single thing that could possibly go wrong.

Due diligence scares me a lot more than arguing to a hostile panel.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:27 PM
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60 -- The last sentence of 37 sounds like a mandate. At the least a card to be played for all it's worth.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:31 PM
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63

the transactional folks have to worry about every single thing that could possibly go wrong.

And then we get to second guess them and roll our eyes at what idiots they were! Hours of fun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:31 PM
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62: Yep. I kind of wish that every time I asked to do some pro bono other than family law, I didn't get shot down, but it's their firm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:33 PM
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63 -- But they have the money. The best advice I give junior lit folks: take the business lawyers to lunch, etc.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:34 PM
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uh, avoid that shit like the plague. this is how it starts, then it sprirals down into anhedonia, apathy, and depression.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:03 PM
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66: I take it you're referring to lunch, yoyo?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:04 PM
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worry about every single thing that could possibly go wrong.

Sounds like programming.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:14 PM
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actually i had a pretty good lunch.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:26 PM
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Pro bono work can get you on TV. Tomorrow. (Not me, but people I know).


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:22 PM
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Though inimical to the dignity of labor, your post is not quite bad enough, at least in isolation, for you to go up against the wall, but after the revolution you'll be sentenced to labor fourteen hours a day. That will leave two hours scheduled for ideological re-education, and eight hours for personal regalement and sleep.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:15 AM
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unfortunately, he'll need all those hours and more to do prep work for the labor. and that's without considering grading!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-14-07 6:19 AM
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73

I have a question about this legal scheduling stuff. IS this awfulness true of all fields?

(The cushiest thing I've ever heard of was a guy in Georgia who does legal malpractice work. He has one associate who probably works normal hours, where by "normal" I mean reasonable for industries other than the law. The guy makes a ton of money and works from like 12-6.)

The litigation life sounds awful. The person I know who works for Brock's employer works terrible hours, but his firm is very much a Big Law operation, and she does M&A stuff. That kind of transaction work is very sensitive to the timing of deals.

Are tax or trusts and estates any better?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-15-07 10:56 AM
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I mean, I'm sure that the hours for tax are horrendous, but are they at least predictable?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-15-07 10:57 AM
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