Monday, January 18, 2010

How To Help Unhappy, Laid Off BigLaw Lawyers: Disbar Them

Almost a year ago I wrote that BigLaw was dead. I was chided, called "jealous" (as I am anytime I say anything negative about the useless BigLaw lawyers of our generation). I was told I was writing the post a bit "early."

So now the New York Times has come out with this article, entitled "No Longer Their Golden Ticket, filled with all the whiny complaints of those that should have never been lawyers in the first place.

Cue the violins. do not just feel as if they are diving into the deep end, but rather, drowning.

Lawyers who entered the field as recently as a few years ago could reasonably expect a life of comfort, security and social esteem. Many are now faced with a different landscape. Bonuses for those who survive are shriveling, and an increasing number of firms now compensate associates based on grades for performance — shades of law school — rather than automatically advancing them on the salary scale.

“I thought, ‘Great, I can afford to buy a house at 23,’ ” said Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa, recalling her first year as an associate in 2006 at Pillsbury in San Francisco. “If I start this way at 23, goodness knows what it will be like when I’m 40.”

She accepted the notoriously grueling workload for the prospect of Caribbean vacations, a convertible and a big loft apartment. But young lawyers now entering the field can feel no such assurance, said Ms. Musiitwa, 27, who left Pillsbury after a year to start a boutique firm. If she were an associate now, she would “have to work a million times harder,” she said, “just to make sure that next time there’s a cut, I’m not on that list.”

“We used to gather in someone’s office, close the door, and say, ‘I hate my life, why are we doing this?’ ” she said.

Even associates who find plenty to do worry that outstanding performance is no longer enough to protect them, said Daniel Lukasik, a Buffalo lawyer who runs an information and outreach Web site called Lawyers With Depression, adding that his traffic is up 25 percent since June, to about 25,000 visitors a month.

A midlevel associate in the New York office of a white-shoe firm, who writes provocatively about law-firm life under the name Legal Tease on her blog, Sweet Hot Justice, described a big law firm as “an absolute torture shack.”

Some partners say that the next generation may have to expect less from a legal career. “What has come to pass is that a law degree is not a ticket to a six-figure salary and a six-figure bonus,” said Matthew A. Feldman, a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York.

So it's over people, o-v-e-r. I'm not talking about those in BigLaw that are actually practicing lawyers, with clients, who do the type of large corporate cork that is only able to be done in Big Law. I'm talking to those of you who are in law school or went to law school because you want a nice office, nice clothes, a six-figure salary you never deserved in the first place, and a guarantee of a life of bonuses and eventual partnership. That's, over.

Do us all a favor, instead of whining about why your legal career is no longer being handed to you, consent to disbarment. Leave the practice of law. No one in this day of thrift and a desire for lawyers that are necessary to a specific legal matter, needs you. Being the 4th lawyer on a team and sitting at a conference table pretending like you are of any value is not going to be your "career" anymore.

If we are to be fair to the profession, we will realize that the vast majority of these whiners, never wanted to be "lawyers." They merely wanted money, and a lot of it. They don't belong in the profession, and there's a way to get rid of them.

Just ask each one: "Why did you go to law school?"

If the answer doesn't include "people," or "help," or "represent," or includes "Big Law Firm," disbar them. Put them out of their misery. You can't complain about not getting a job in law if you don't have the right to do so.

The world thought they needed you BigLaw paraders up until last year. Now it's time to move on and get out, for the benefit of those that actually want to be a part of what used to be a profession.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the six figure student debt problem.