Slackoisie to Biglaw: Be Funner

While the millenials claim to possess many virtues, good timing is apparently not amongst them.  A gang of the best and brightest have stolen away from the couch in the basement, pushed aside their half-eaten bag of Doritos, to find power in numbers and change the world for the better.  At least the better for them.  What? You expected them to give a damn about anyone else?

From the National Law Journal :

Gathering at Stanford Law School over the weekend, about 50 students from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and other premier law schools were part of Building a Better Legal Profession’s National Conference of Student Leaders. The two-day event focused on changing what were often painted as the evil ways of big law firms and included presentations and discussion from well-known practitioners and professors.

The goal of Building a Better Legal Profession (BBLP) is to create collective action among students and associates from top schools to prod large law firms to implement what it says are significant changes needed in billable hour requirements, diversity and the commitment to pro bono work. Their hope is that students and associates from the best schools will not accept jobs at firms that do not change their ways.

I know!  I can’t read that last line without laughing either.  Neither can the recently resurrected Holden Oliver at What About Clients?

Clueless in America. When WAC? was just 25-years-old, he was already a brilliant securities lawyer, independently wealthy, and a leading expert on: (1) law firm economics and management, and (2) working with clients in global markets. And so were all his friends. Well, weren’t you? Hey, it could happen. And monkeys could fly out of your wazoo.

Reformation of the evils of Biglaw is a wonderful thing.  The billable hour, for example, is indeed evil, but the evil isn’t to the poor, unfortunate associates who are forced by taskmasters in pinstriped suits to work endless hours until they drop for a mere $190,000 a year (plus bonus).  It’s evil to the clients who pay for useless hours by young associates whose work product could be more swiftly and competently produced by monkeys sitting at typewriters in the bowels of the Library of Britain. 

Of course, there are two practical impediments to this grand gesture.  First, Biglaw is hemorrhaging at the moment, trying to shed the self-proclaimed best and brightest as fast as they can without making it look like they’re about to sell off their faux mahogany desks and ergonomic chairs.  In other words, the collective might of this group of go-getters, with their call to refuse to go to work in the morning, poses somewhat less of a threat than, say, telling managing partners that they dress funny.

The second problem, which is one that likely never dawned on these new-dawners, is that there is a bunch of people out there who are delightfully called “clients”.  This group called “clients” are the nice folks to send in large checks to pay for the sweet dreams shared by the best and brightest.  And it is neither the best and brightest, nor even the Biglaw firms who allow them the gesture of having formative legal years, who pay the price for each of the BBLP demands.  One might think all these sharp young lawyers understood that there is a cost to their demands, and it gets paid by somebody. 

Connect the dots, kids.  If you’re getting the big bucks (theoretically) and spending your days performing highly fulfilling pro bono work, where do you think the lucre comes from?  You can perform good deeds all day long if you would like.  Once you’re a lawyer, do pro bono!  Work for the Legal Aid Society!  Give blood, if you want.  Nobody is stopping you from doing good deeds for others.  You just can’t demand that somebody pay you an astronomically high salary while you get to fulfill your dreams. 

It would be so much more fun if Biglaw paid the best and brightest to do the things they think are fun.  Come on, Biglaw.  Be funner.  It’s not like they’re asking for more pizza parties or balloons every Thursday.  This is good, clean fun, helping the people we want to help. 

Unfortunately, there is no right to drive up to the food bank in a Ferrari.  Even if you think you’re the best and the brightest.  Even if it’s your idea of fun.  But while you protest, there are a whole bunch of students from “lesser” law schools who would be happy to have a job at half your salary.