It’s looking bleak in the legal market – but legal ninjas don’t despair – there is work out there.
There is a brilliant article in the New York Times making its rounds in the legal world. It’s about how the law school model needs to radically change because the legal world has radically changed. Legal Ninja applauds this awareness and hopes that law schools follow through. There are too many students with too much debt and not enough jobs to go around. The market is oversaturated and the third year of law school is pretty much useless.
Law students were promised a world of money and work, despite the economy. But the legal economy was horrible at the time of this promise and it remains so today. Something needs to change and it should begin at the beginnning: with law schools.
Managing a law firm is just like managing any other business. At least, it should be. But too often law firm managers like to keep everyone in a cloud of secrecy – all Batman style. All firms do it to a certain degree. Most infuriating is that they pay lip service to transparency at the same time. It’s an odd practice and goes against every grain of business sense out there – but we’re lawyers, not businessmen, right?
A lot of it goes back to legal culture. Law firms are run like little fiefdoms, with associates as the peasants and managing partners as the landlords. The landlords only reveal what is convenient to reveal. In some extreme situations (cough couch Dewey Leboeuf cough cough), even partners are left in the dark by the managing partners.
This is a dangerous practice and needs to be reformed. Things like bonuses, firm profits, partner profits, new partners, and even how many people made their bonus, need to be out in the open – constantly. Everything should be crystal clear. Managing partners should make every initiative known to everyone – constantly. No more hidden plans. If it affects associates or partners – they should know. That’s the legal ninja way.
People around you will not know if you are working yourself sick – especially in a law firm. Everyone is used to seeing people work late hours so they won’t know that you just worked 100 hours in a week. The only one that can truly take care of yourself - is you.
Now, I know that being an attorney may not seem as though it would present a tremendous amount of health challenges – but it does. You are sitting most of the day and have to deal with multiple high pressure situations simultaneously. Over the course of a career, this sounds like the recipe for all sorts of heart, cholesterol, and numerous other health problems. Problems which are very difficult to recover from.
And see – nobody can prevent this but yourself. You have to know your own body and know when you have to take the initiative to improve your lifestyle. During a busy time, exercise may not seem like the best idea (I have to finish such and such document!), but it is crucial to your overall health and sanity. The law firm can provide you with a car home or a meal late at night, but it will not tell you that your cholesterol level is at an all-time high from a lack of exercise.