Wednesday, February 25, 2009

9 to 5? Try 8 to 2

We work long hours most days. Sometimes we leave the house at 7am and don't return until 10pm. But sometimes you run into people that make you grateful you are not them. At a party recently, I met a young lawyer who graduated the same year that we did. She said that this was the first social engagement that she had attended in a long time.

She tells me she works at Paul Hastings. To be honest, I tell her that I have not heard the name of the firm, although today I notice the name plastered on the side of a high rise in downtown L.A. It's comical how lawyers always expect that you have heard the name of their firm. As if my entire existence is to memorize the names of big firms that I would never want to work for.

As we are chatting, the topic of hours comes up, and I ask her how long her days are. She tells me "things have been really busy lately" adding, "I usually get into the office at 8 in the morning and leave at 2" By 2, she means 2am. It's hard to contain the horrified look that spreads across my face.

Now, I know that large law firms rely to a major extent on the air of prestige to carry them through. But what is prestigious about making this poor woman work those types of hours? What is to envy about her life? I find out later in the evening that her work is boring, she never gets to court, never meets face to face with clients, and that the office is a complete meat grinder, forcing her to work sweatshop hours. Throughout the evening she takes several breaks to check her Blackberry and respond to messages from superiors. Gag. Me.

Elizabeth and I are working very hard, and there are days when we wonder if we're doing the right thing. But we both agree wholeheartedly that we'd rather be doing this than that.


A said...

Really? I didn't know you could finish law school without hearing of Paul Hastings and attending at least three of their recruiting events. :) At least, they are really well-known on the LA law school campuses.

Good luck with your new practice!

Anonymous Esquire said...

Yeah screw that. I'd much rather make a comfortable salary, but have a life. What could she possibly do with the money if she never has any time to enjoy herself?