THE UNNAMED ASSOCIATE SPEAKS #2: Be Careful What You Wish For
by the Unnamed Associate
There's definitely a pecking order at a law firm, no matter how big or small it may be. For instance, there are many cases which are not officially "my" case, but on which I do the majority of the substantive work - research and writing motions, contacting the client, getting things set for hearing before the court. But a colleague's name goes on everything, and he gets to handle anything fun which comes up. This could be pretty annoying if I didn't have my own substantive cases to handle, and even so, it's annoying when something fun comes up – like a trip out of town – and I can't go because it isn't "my" file.
Earlier this week, however, I got to take my first business trip as a lawyer. I went to the state capital for some depositions – two days of depositions! This is very exciting to a new lawyer, because everything that is new and sounds important seems exciting. Plus, I get to stay at a hotel in a city not my own! What more could I want. I was so thrilled that I was sent this time, rather than the guy whose name is on the case.
It turns out there's a reason.
I prepared for the depositions by reading the entire (voluminous) case file. Of course, I can't bill for that – the client shouldn't have to pay to bring a brand-new lawyer into the file, but I wanted to be Ms. Prepared-For-Anything. When it comes to legal work, I'm a Girl Scout in my preparation. I arrived at the depos wearing my best suit, having no idea what to expect, and settled down to the two most boring days of my entire life.
The depos were of state employees (which is why it was in the capital) and it turns out the issue they were being deposed on has nothing to do with our defendant. Further, they were BORING BUREAUCRATS, testifying about various aspects of how the budget is put together and how certain projects receive funding, and why a particular project received the funding it did and not some other amount to do something different. It was all I could do to stay awake in the stuffy little drab government-issue conference room, where they didn't even have a pot of coffee to keep us company! No perks for the government lawyers, I remember that from my law school job, but still – at least my office had a coffee pot! One of the lawyers actually fell asleep leaning his head on his hand, and his mouth dropped open. He didn't snore, exactly, but there was definitely some drooling going on. By the end of the first day, I felt like I had been dragged through a wringer or kicked down some stairs, I was so tired. I retired to my nondescript unimpressive hotel, ate a cereal bar and fell asleep. No hanging out in the hotel bar, no sitting in the hot tub or having fun exploring the room features, no hitting the town for the famous local pizza. And the next day was more of the same, only worse – instead of starting at 10, the depos were delayed until after lunch, and dragged on right until rush hour.
The moral of this story? I suppose it's New Associate Rule Number One: Be careful what you wish for.
About the Author The Unnamed Associate is the pseudonym of a first-year litigation associate who works at a U.S. law firm. For more information, see her collected posts or Evan Schaeffer's introduction.